Author's note: This was put together fairly quickly and in response to several inquiries regarding my thoughts on the recent mass shootings. It's not as polished as I'd like, but it's self reflective and I'll put it out there. I wanted to refrain from writhing on this topic at all as it ventures quite far from my usual genre. Comment moderation is on and given the amount of inappropriate commentary I've already read on this topic I may not publish any of them. Intelligent commentary is, of course, welcome.
As an observation about the events in Connecticut...
It seems to me that calling this event a tragedy isn't really correct- this is an atrocity. A school bus crashing on an icy road is a tragedy; the purposed murder of children is an atrocity.
The proper response to tragedy is sorrow, whereas the proper response to atrocity is rage.
And here's the rub- with these sorts of events the person primarily responsible often winds up dead in the act; leaving us rage without a target. People will sort this out in a variety of ways- some direct their rage toward the instrument (i.e. the gun), toward the shooter's family, toward elements of society they perceive to have enabled the shooter, to the government and, lastly, God. I've seen all of these responses in the last 24 hours, some of them within the ranks of my friends and family as well as myself.
While it's all very normal, it does leave us lacking with all the talk about changing our laws in response to such events in order to prevent it from happening again. All this misplaced emotional rage clouds our judgement and prevents us from having any sort of meaningful discourse. As a nation we demand action- and are far from being able to discern what, to whom, and to where.
Do we, as a society, need some type of stricter controls on arms? Or, as some suggest, less controls? I don't know the answer to either, but as an individual I take encroachment on my liberties quite seriously. I also take the safety of my family seriously and the safety of our nation seriously as well. If we are going to have a national discourse on gun control I'd certainly like it to be with the clearest minds possible and that isn't now. Most people I know with even a modicum of compassion are hurting. And angry. And confused.
I believe we will, and should, engage in the debate about the ease of access to arms in our society. If undertaken, we need reason and diligence to protect both our liberties and our safety. But not now- now is the time for prayer, and tears, and mourning. Not a vicious debate.
Quick draw bantering- the same old tired cliches back and forth is meaningless and will only break our civil discourses down further. There are folks on both sides of this debate who will use the emotions of the day to further their agendas- and I don't care which side they're on- engaging in a sort of opportunistic ghoulism provided by the blood of innocents. It disgusts me beyond wrath and it should you too. To be perfectly clear- if at this point you're either calling for more gun control or crying out against it- your priorities as a human being, frankly, just suck.
I'm suspicious of special interests, politicians and others (who may not actually care very much about the safety of our families) that are going to be talking a lot in the next few weeks about the safety of our families. For a lot of those folks it's about winning a long running debate, a philosophcal argument more so than anything else. They've entered into this discourse with their minds firmly made up from days and battles long past and aren't going to engage in anything new or meaningful at all. Mere vitriol for the cameras- soundbites to appease their supporters and donors. For so long the debate about arms has been between the margins- the vocal outliers on both sides who don't do a very good job of representing us. Any of us.
I'm also deeply suspicious of anyone who steps forward and purports to have an easy solution. This atrocity isn't merely about guns, if it were the solutions would be pretty simple. The factors that lead to these attocities aren't simple problems and there are no easy solutions. In fact- there may not even be a solution and that troubles me deeply. The problems in our society are many- easy access to weapons, a culture enamored with extreme violence as entertainment, a moral compass that spins wildly out of control, a national mental healthcare crisis, a generation of medicated and maladjusted young people- freedoms undertaken without responsibility. To focus on one element of this atrocity is myopic at best and irresponsible at worst.
As a nation built on democracy and civil discourse there will be time for all of that...but not now.